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Minister Approves New Marlborough Fish Farms

19 August 2014

NEW ZEALAND - Plan changes to enable three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds have been signed off by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at a function at the Marlborough District Council with Mayor Alistair Sowman and representatives from NZ King Salmon.

“These three new salmon farms at Waitata and Richmond in Pelorus Sound and Ngamahau in Tory Chanel are hugely important to Nelson and Marlborough’s aquaculture industry and wider economy. They will enable NZ King Salmon to grow its products from the current 6000 tonnes per year to 9000 tonnes per year in 2015 and 13,000 tonnes per year by 2033. These new farms will grow our GDP by $120 million per year, our exports by $50 million and employment by 150 new jobs,” Dr Smith says.

“I am well satisfied that our region can maintain the conservation and recreation benefits of Marlborough Sounds while enabling the growth of the aquaculture industry. These three farms will take up only about five hectares of surface water space out of a total area of over 100,000 hectares in the Sounds, or less than 0.01 per cent.”

The Minister’s approval of Plan Change 24 is the final stage of the legal process following the application in 2011 by NZ King Salmon for a plan change to make salmon farming a discretionary activity in eight locations. The proposed plan change was referred to the Environmental Protection Authority Board of Inquiry that received 1272 submission of which 722 opposed, 358 supported and 118 indicated mixed positions.

The Board approved four farms but the decision was subsequently appealed to the High Court by the Environmental Defence Society and Sustain Our Sounds. The High Court dismissed the appeals and this decision was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Sustain Our Sounds appeal was dismissed but the appeal by the Environmental Defence Society on the Gore Bay farm was upheld. The Minister also approved Plan Change 26, a technical change to the Marlborough Sounds Coastal Plan arising from the Government’s aquaculture reforms.

“It is good news that these coastal plan changes have finally been approved, but I am concerned about the time, cost and community divisions caused by the process,” Dr Smith says.

“I am trying to encourage a more collaborate approach to resolving these tensions between jobs and growth, and conservation and recreation around New Zealand’s coastline. They have been successful in Fiordland, Kaikoura and in the Sub-Antarctic Islands, and I have initiated new collaborative forums in the Hauraki Gulf and Otago.

“I am encouraged by the much improved relationship between King Salmon and the Marlborough District Council and am considering options for a more collaborative approach to Marlborough Sounds coastal planning in the future. Marlborough’s future depends on the economic opportunities of producing fine food and wine. Salmon is a superb product to sit aside the region’s world class wine and mussels.

“I am confident that with goodwill and balance we can grow Nelson and Marlborough’s salmon industry while also protecting the conservation and recreation values of the Sounds,” Dr Smith concluded.

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